This guest post is penned by Chris McCandless-Stone, Deputy Fleet Performance Manager for Eurostar.
As a matter of fact I’m a rather cosmopolitan train – part-French, part-Brummie.
I was born, raised and tested in Belfort, France and Washwood Heath, Birmingham, in the UK, courtesy of my Anglo-French parents Alstom, in 1994. As part of the TGV family I have high speed brothers and sisters across Europe and the globe.
But back to me. I weighed in at 800 tonnes and measured 394 metres from top to toe- which made me the longest high speed passenger train in Europe. I’ve been a bit of a record breaker, setting the UK rail speed record of 208mph (334.7kph) in July 2003 to celebrate the opening of the high speed line in Kent.
But that kind of performance isn’t really surprising when you’ve got enough power under your bonnet to generate 16,408 bhp. That, my friends, is the equivalent vra-vra-vroom of 20 Formula One racing cars on the starting grid at Monaco or Silverstone (though I like to think I set off with a little less fuss and considerably less noise when the lights turn green).
Power isn’t everything, of course. With 18 coaches, I can carry 750 passengers in comfort. It would take almost two Boeing 747 jumbo jets to manage that number (and without the legroom!).
Talking of passengers, in the 21 years since operations began between London-Paris and London-Brussels, I and the rest of the Eurostar fleet have carried over 150 million passengers- more than double the entire UK population.
If all those people had to chosen to fly rather than take the train, the airlines would have had to lay on a million extra flights. Just think of all that carbon dioxide!
As it is, we carry more passengers every month between those destinations than all the corresponding airlines put together.
We help them on and off, too, thanks to our steps which automatically adjust to different platform heights in each country. Clever? That’s not the half of it.
Thanks to Alstom, were smart enough to run on four different railway networks, with four voltage systems and seven different signalling systems without a second thought.
So I’ve got power, speed, capacity and brains. And I think I’ve got the looks too (in a sleek yellow and grey-white sort of way).
What more could a train want?
See our new Eurostar exhibition from 20 October in our Great Hall.